The Future of the Research University
A Harvard Magazine Roundtable
What roles do research universities perform in our society? How can they reconcile the tension between liberal education and vocationalism? Are universities fulfilling their social mission? How will rights and responsibilities be sorted out as information technologies enable new forms of teaching? Will residential research universities retain their familiar roles and structures in the future?
Harvard Magazine asked six participants in and observers of American higher education to examine the challenges facing the research university and to speculate about its future. Joining the discussion in the Perkins Room at Massachusetts Hall were:
Ethan Bronner, education editor, The New York Times;
Patrick M. Callan, president, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (a research organization based in San Jose, California) and previously executive director of postsecondary education commissions in California, Montana, and Washington;
Albert Carnesale, chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, since 1997, and previously provost, dean of the Kennedy School of Government, and Littauer professor of public policy and administration at Harvard;
Linda S. Doyle, president and chief executive officer, Harvard Business School Publishing, and associate dean, Harvard Business School;
Caroline M. Hoxby, Kahn associate professor of economics, whose research and teaching interests include extensive work on higher education; and
Neil L. Rudenstine, president of Harvard University since 1991.
The conversation, moderated by Harvard Magazine, ranged from the origins of modern universities to questions of public and private financial support as investments in research facilities and financial aid soar. Edited excerpts of the discussion follow.
Moderator: What is the research university today? What distinctive functions does it perform, what roles does it play, and how did those functions and roles evolve?
Carnesale: The research university has a three-part mission-education, research, and public service-and it does all three in an integrated way. The same people-faculty, students, and staff-are involved in all three endeavors, so that undergraduates participate in research, and graduate students are engaged in teaching as well as in service. That is the distinguishing characteristic that sets the research university apart from other institutions of higher learning and from other institutions in general.
The education portion of our mission includes everything from producing informed citizens to preparing the leaders of the next generation to training future scholars and professional specialists. The research portion ranges from the most basic-understanding better the world and our history and our future-to applied research at the other end of the spectrum-working directly on the problems that face society today. The service function takes many forms, too. Our education and research roles are forms of service, and so is our engagement in the community: our work in K through 12 education, for example, and the clinical care provided by our medical schools and hospitals.
Rudenstine: I agree with everything Al said, and would add one other element he implied, which has to do with professional-school education. The distinctive quality of the research-intensive American university is that it is the only place where professional-school education, graduate arts and sciences education, undergraduate education, research, and teaching are all joined together in one place as an integrated model. It is our predominant model, and it's really an American invention.
Not only are American research universities the only institutions in society charged with doing all those tasks, but they are also the only institutions charged with trying to keep, as fully and accurately as possible, what we might call “the human record,” the record of civilization. Whether it is embodied in our libraries, or in the minds and capacities of our faculty, or in what the faculty publishes or teaches, one of the chief purposes of the university is to keep that “record” as straight, honest, accurate, and comprehensive as possible. And that includes constantly interpreting the record as we know it. Universities regard knowledge as something that must be constantly probed, questioned, and explained, so we can understand our past, as well as our present.
This active custodial role of interpretation, explanation, and clarification is something very special-no other institution has this task as one of its primary purposes. That's one reason we teach approximately 60 languages-and something about their cultures and civilizations-at Harvard, because if universities fail to do that, and we begin to forget the variety and richness of what human beings have created, we will simply lose a vast proportion of what we need to know in order to understand what humankind really is.
Hoxby: Is it important that teaching, research, and public service be combined? Or is it just arbitrary that these functions are all under the same umbrella? I would claim that part of what makes research universities important is that these functions actually need to stay together so that all of them remain high in quality.
Why is it that researchers need to teach undergraduates or professional students? Because these students always make you ask the basic questions, the important questions. They're interested in the most current questions. They push researchers toward relevant questions.
Why is it important that research universities do public service? Because it's important that research stays aware of where the public discussion is going. Research institutions in other parts of the world do not have teaching or public-service functions. But the evidence is that American research universities actually produce a lot of research, despite having other functions. In fact, it appears that these functions are complementary with high-quality research.
Bronner: Perhaps re?ecting my background, I would add that universities-a little bit like newspapers-serve the function of being honest brokers of information and knowledge. At a time when public discourse is shot through with branding, and the use of the information is sometimes suspect if it comes from the private sector, the research university offers itself as an arbiter of knowledge. This is a function that people cherish. And it's not surprising to me that, even while brand or corporate loyalty is on the decline, people's sense of loyalty to the college they attended or the university they're affiliated with has gone up.
One other function of the university involves the coming of age and the social integration that takes place there. Those functions aren't unique to the research university, but they are emblematic of a four-year residential university or a college. This is something that universities do extremely well: both racial and social-class integration, and helping young people become adults.
Moderator: How did this agglomeration of functions within the research university come about?
Carnesale: It didn't originate in this country. The earliest universities arose in the twelfth century in Bologna and Paris, but they were very much organizations of students, and under church auspices. Their purpose was primarily to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next. But there was also some learning involved that one could call research.
The German model of the nineteenth century-research for the purpose of research, to gain new knowledge in science and the arts-was first combined with training the next generation of scholars. There was also some interest in producing an informed citizenry, but the original emphasis was primarily on scholars. To some extent, that became the model for graduate education in the United States, and then it was expanded to include undergraduates at our major research universities.
Rudenstine: We should also remember that we began-in the seventeenth century-by borrowing the English model of a residential undergraduate college. Then later, in the nineteenth century, we began to notice that, particularly in Germany, students could undertake the kind of graduate research-and other advanced work-that they simply could not find in this country.
But rather than pursue that graduate work in detached and separate research “institutes,” our universities built a superstructure on the foundation of our liberal-arts colleges. That happened at Harvard; it happened at Princeton and Yale more or less simultaneously. At about the same time, institutions such as Stanford, Chicago, and Johns Hopkins were all created on a similar model (with some variations), placing undergraduate and graduate education and research together, rather than separating them.
Then, at various times, professional schools began to be add¬ed -usually law and medicine first. The process was partly organic, with some conscious borrowings from England and Germany.
Hoxby: There's something exciting about the period when research universities appeared in the United States. Their appearance was not inevitable. Perhaps one is not surprised that state universities were started to do agricultural scientific research that had local applications. But it was not obvious that institutions that had started off as undergraduate colleges for teaching the liberal arts would go on to do so much scientific and professional research. It seems university presidents at that time had tremendous vision about the role their institutions could play in the United States. By making the universities fulfill multiple functions, they kept them central to American education, instead of making them something peripheral, only for an elite.
Rudenstine: I think that happened partly because of the private nature of our institutions. In Germany, the government established research institutes, funded them, and decided what work they would pursue. In the United States, two developments worked to encourage many colleges to go beyond their undergraduate role.
First, our own students began to go abroad after graduation and discovered the quality of what was being done there. You can trace this in the paths of particular alumni-people like the young William James, George Ticknor, and others. They came back and said to Harvard, in effect, “You had better do something-we are falling far behind.” The federal government was not at all interested in creating a constellation of special research institutes here. So the institutions that were already in existence-and had some scholars who could in fact undertake real scholarship-simply decided to move forward.
Second, Charles William Eliot's way of hastening this movement was the introduction of the elective system. As long as we had a prescribed, limited curriculum, our colleges needed only a relatively small number of faculty, and we did not need “specialists” or scholars. But the moment we allowed students to choose any one of many disciplines to concentrate in, we had to expand the faculty, to find scholars in all the new fields of knowledge-scholars who could do advanced research as well as teach students. So these two factors together-the elective system and the example of the German research institutions, which prompted our own alumni to press us-created the conditions for change.
Callan: Although these intellectual and institutional traditions run quite deep historically, it was during World War II and its aftermath, when the federal government made a very conscious decision to support the research mission of the universities, both public and private, that the scope and scale and character of these institutions as we've known them really changed. A different set of policy decisions could easily have been made.
Doyle: Executive education was really invented at Harvard Busi¬ness School when the army wanted us to train logistics officers.
Education versus Earning Power
Bronner: There is a somewhat paradoxical result of all this. Universities today serve as credentialing stations, at the same time that they're supposed to be places where you take a break from the mundane concerns of the world-where you can re?ect on history and culture, and think about your own life and how that fits into those things. But increasingly, as we seem to be in a “knowledge-based” economy, people want to come to these places so they will then be able to go out and make a million bucks. Universities are struggling to ride that wave and, at the same time, to hold it back.
Carnesale: That's one of the greatest tensions we face in higher education today. It's not new. We've always had to address it: breadth versus depth. We have always believed that it's important for students to specialize in something-I don't care what-just to learn how to peel an onion. But we have also believed it's important to learn that not everything in life is an onion-students need also to learn about fields other than their fields of specialization.
That is growing more and more difficult. More and more students come to universities today to prepare for a first job, because simply being a university graduate is no longer the comparative advantage it once was. So they're looking for that extra edge-and if they're not looking for it, their parents are. Because students are feeling this pressure, many of them see breadth of education-simply becoming an informed person-as less important than learning something that will give them a head start when they enter the workplace. One of the most important tasks we have as educators is to maintain balance in the institution, and to help young people and their families understand the value of a broad education.
Doyle: I wonder if the pace of change isn't in the long run working to universities' advantage in that arena. Certain kinds of knowledge get outdated so fast now, particularly application-focused training for a job, that you really have to train people to have capabilities beyond technical expertise. I certainly see that in business education. In the long run, that might get people to understand the value of a general, liberal-arts education-I hope so, anyway.
Hoxby: There is a tension. Students are less interested in some of the traditional liberal arts. But they are more interested in something that research universities have always been good at doing-teaching people how to process information in order to reach new conclusions. We must believe that's important, or why would we have research faculty teaching undergraduates and trying to get them to understand how the frontier of knowledge is changing? There isn't a skill that is more valuable in a knowledge-based economy than the skill to take fresh information and turn it into the results that you need to proceed.
Callan: One of the great strengths of the American system is that it is public and private, and has a great deal of differentiation. We've always said that a system in which a student market plays an important role in making choices is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our higher-education system. But therein lies the dilemma that we're talking about. It hasn't been either educational or public policy that has pushed these very utilitarian trends, it's been the choices that students make.
There's the point that Al makes: what do we do with these students when they show up at our doorstep? In the world we've created, by design or not, the consequences of not having education beyond high school are punishing. The premium for participation in elite universities seems to be growing, and the prices and the debt loads that students undertake to attend are high. We've created a constant pressure on them and their families to think about this as an investment. We all hear the stories of the kid who goes home at Thanksgiving, whose parent asks, “What courses are you taking to help make this investment a useful one?”
Bronner: Educators have made something of a Faustian bargain: encouraging the idea that education is a way to personal prosperity and then, when the students get in, saying, “Well, you're not here to get rich, after all. You're here to think and to learn how to think.”
It's a tension inherent in human life, so I'm not saying it's exceptional. There's a long history of cherishing education in this country. But in the last 20 or 30 years, everyone has come to seek education to reach personal prosperity. That's how it's advertised.
In 1983, the Department of Education report, A Nation at Risk, said this country's economy was going down the tubes because its educational system was no good. Since then, everyone has been trying to make the education system better in order to create prosperity. In fact, we have created a great deal of prosperity, but it's not clear we have improved our educational system.
Callan: Historically, the public view of education has always been utilitarian, at least since the latter half of the nineteenth century, when we created and supported universities to deal with agriculture and to help industrialize the country, and then to deal with World War II, national defense, and the Cold War.
Not that universities are innocent, either. Educators themselves have played both sides of the street: when it would bring in resources or better students, educators have made the argument in utilitarian terms, and then have sometimes deplored the consequences.
Carnesale: What has changed is that in the past, simply being a college graduate was advantage enough that it didn't matter much what you studied. When only 10 percent of the population came out of college, that group really was set apart.
Now, a much larger proportion of the population attends colleges and universities, so students are focused not only on graduating per se, but also on what they study. At UCLA, more than half of incoming freshmen initially study some aspect of biology, in order to keep open the option of becoming a physician or riding the new biotechnology wave. But after the first two years, a much smaller fraction pursues that field-usually because the others have found something they love more.
But undergraduate student choices are very focused on preparation for careers. And this carries over to decisions about professional schools. As I understand the data, the proportion of people actually going on to professional school has not grown, but there is now a clear economic premium attached to going. So at all levels, in terms of your future income, what you study matters a lot more now than it did before.
Hoxby: The proportion of each cohort that finishes the baccalaureate degree has not grown very much since the early 1970s, even though the proportion that goes on to some college has grown a lot. One of the principal struggles for educators is making baccalaureate education more ubiquitous. What the economy rewards is a high-quality college education, not just any education, regardless of the quality or completeness. In fact, people in the United States who have one year of college education earn about the same amount as high-school graduates.
Bronner: I always thought the economic distinction depended on whether you graduated, not where you graduated from. I haven't seen data showing that if you graduate from fancier colleges, you make more money than graduates generally.
Hoxby: As a rule, a student's return depends on the college he or she attends. Moreover, it appears that the rate of return for every dollar spent is higher at more expensive colleges.
Bronner: And the explanation would be that this was because of the institution's selection process, or because of the value added by interacting with the students and faculty there?
Carnesale: That's what the debate is about, not whether there is a difference. The correlation is clear.
Hoxby: The correlation is clear, so the question is, even if one accounts for selection, is it still true that the economic return increases with college quality? It looks as though it does.
One of the things that keeps research universities from becoming completely career-oriented is the students themselves. They are idealistic about what they're supposed to learn and how they're supposed to interact with one another. They balance the pursuit of their career goals and other goals. They think, “I'm going to set aside this number of courses to make sure that I get a good job,” but then they use their other courses to learn about things they've always wanted to learn about-literature or culture. The students help universities to maintain a balance, because they want to be whole people.
Rudenstine: This is an oscillating process, if you will. No matter how much we may believe in the endless prosperity of the new economy, it would be a mistake to think that this moment is either unique or likely to endure. Only 30 years ago, sociology, anthropology, and several humanistic fields were the most over-subscribed subjects on many campuses. It was very difficult to find enough students interested in technology, engineering, and related subjects-all of that appeared to be part of the “military-industrial complex.”
If we move back even further in time and look again at the writings of people like Robert Hutchins and Thorstein Veblen on higher education, we find that the greatest battle was against “vocationalism” and the “business mentality,” which they believed was threatening genuine education in the liberal arts and sciences. So what we are observing today needs to be seen in the context of a larger historical pattern or cycle.
Have universities and colleges themselves been responsible for the new “hucksterism”? Since there are about 3,500 institutions of higher education in the country, we can find an example of almost anything we choose to focus on. But most of the studies about the economic return on education have not been done by universities themselves. I do not want to say our institutions are completely innocent of the entire effort to connect higher education with a precise financial return, but I do not believe Harvard thinks about its education in that way, and I doubt many other ex¬cellent institutions are thinking that way, either.
Callan: I take slight issue with that. Harvard may not be. But if you listen to the testimony of the presidents of major state research universities before state legislatures, these data are cited often. So is the role of research in economic development. I don't necessarily consider that hucksterism if done well. We have created a lot of institutions for this purpose-although not research universities by and large.
Rudenstine: That's true.
Callan: That's a big piece of what society legitimately expects of higher education-not that it's a goal every institution should pursue. But now, in many cases, I think we're out claiming excessive credit for the new economy. I hope we don't live to regret that. But it's helping us now-we're getting 6 and 7 percent increases in state appropriations every year.
Rudenstine: Right. I was making a different distinction, which had to do with the claims we're making about the economic reward for an individual student.
Callan: I hear you.
Bronner: But those data on returns do come from university studies. The media don't do those studies. They simply report them, perhaps too prominently, but university economists are still doing them, and not inappropriately.
Rudenstine: Well, I wouldn't want to hitch our education to any economic return that I could predict.
Hoxby: Much of the motivation for studies of the return to education comes from an interest in people who come from disadvantaged families in the United States. Researchers want to learn whether someone who comes from a minority family, or a low-income family, or a family where the parents don't have a high-school education, can earn a middle income or upper-middle income by going to college. Such studies are not initiated by colleges; they're initiated by people who want to know about economic opportunity.
Carnesale: That is a tradition in the United States. This happens to be one of the few societies that has a tradition of econom¬ic and social mobility, based largely on access to education. For immigrants, minorities, and others, education has been the key to socioeconomic advancement. This perception is very much in keeping with a longstanding American tradition, and it has the further advantage of being accurate.
Bronner: Do we actually know that the wealth that has been produced has resulted from increased education of those producing it?
Carnesale: Education is the way to move into the middle class. There isn't much doubt in my mind that the average level of education in the middle class is substantially higher than that of people in the lower class. If you're looking at the upper end of society in terms of income, the correlation may not be so strong.
But I was talking about access to the middle class. That kind of mobility has been very important. As Pat points out, you're likely to find this argument made most frequently by public institutions that have to make a case for appropriations.
Carnesale: And you're likely to find this argument made most often by institutions that aren't research institutions, but whose only function is education.
When it comes to research, of course, university presidents testifying before congressional committees usually talk about the utility of the research. We don't spend a great deal of time talking about how much better a person you might be if you understood what Milton was trying to say, because that's not what Congress is particularly interested in. Funding for research in the humanities, for example, has certainly not kept pace with funding for scientific research.
Callan: Even with the utilitarian focus on funding research, the liberal arts and sciences as a whole-the areas that don't get so much direct support-have also participated in all of the three-part research-university functions that you talked about. They've done so because of the universities' ability to use their resources that way. That doesn't mean that it's a level playing field for all disciplines, but it does mean that the research university is as serious about the arts and sciences as it is about the medical school.
Carnesale: Private universities have been more successful at this than public universities, where the money is not quite as fungible. At public research universities, the humanities and social sciences have suffered more, even in those that have been extremely successful in attracting federal research money for the sciences. My own institution is an example of that. We do extremely well in peer-reviewed federal research grants. As a matter of fact, I believe Harvard is number one in the country, and UCLA is number two. But finding the sources of money to support research in the humanities and social sciences is far more difficult for us.
Callan: I agree. I don't know of a major state university in the country for which that statement wouldn't be true-and most of them obviously don't do as well as UCLA in attracting the external support.
Managing - and Minding - the Store
Moderator: These institutions not only perform several differ¬ent functions, but they have become complex structures, billion-dollar enterprises with large staffs and very diverse operations. Can research universities, as they have evolved by absorbing func¬tions, be managed? Are they nimble enough for the challenges they face?
Rudenstine: If you read reports of 50 or 75 years ago, you find that almost every institution thought it had become larger, more complicated, and more difficult to run, and was perhaps reaching the end of what it could manage in terms of scale. Look at the president's report for Harvard's three-hundredth anniversary, in 1936. Given the then-current budget-and how complex the University had become-President Conant wondered what Harvard would be 50 years thence and whether it would have become complacent, less interested in continuing to press forward.
So the question of complexity is obviously relative. The management issues are difficult, but they are a soluble set of problems. No question, we are even more complicated now: we are more global, and we have far more complicated systems-in information technology, in science and technology, and elsewhere-that are new in their current form. But there were an¬alogues in the late nineteenth century, with the invention of vast open-access research libraries, new scientific laboratories, and major scientific museums with enormous study collections. There was a huge in?ux of unsorted and rather bewildering “new information” then. So I think people and institutions will learn how to manage the latest complexities, just as they managed the earlier ones.
Bronner: American higher education has never been at a healthier moment than right now. There is an incredible amount of money pouring in. It is hard to argue that these institutions are not sustainable.
In the relatively fallow period of 15 or 20 years ago-when there was a drop in the number of undergraduates, the loss of federal money, the energy crisis, and so on-universities adapted. They became much more consumer-oriented. They understood that they needed to appeal to students and their parents, and that they needed to outsource some of the things they did. I think they have come out impressively whole.
Doyle: But the future holds some very interesting challenges. If you look at the demographics, 2004 is the year when the first wave of baby boomers begins to retire. Part of the reason for this incredible bull market in stocks has been the wave of retirement savings. Once the baby boomers begin to retire and that tide turns, a lot of air is going to come out of that balloon.
There are going to be many more retired people, and they're going to have political clout. They're going to be worried about the funding of Medicare and Medicaid, and less interested in the funding of education. Universities whose endowments have grown tremendously may find themselves in a very interesting situation as those endowments begin to shrink and there's a lot of public pressure on where the money goes.
Hoxby: We've just been talking about how big and complicated research universities are. But in another sense, they're getting smaller, relative to the world that has access to them. Faculty now talk to faculty here at Harvard more often because it's easier to communicate. We exchange information faster, and we're more likely to advise one another's students.
It's also true that the University is smaller relative to the world that is interested in our research. More people from outside the University are gaining access to the research that we're doing.
Given the changes in technology and communications, I think that the University is not too big. In fact, the number of outside communications we make suggests that we could make many more internal University communications if those were the most productive things to do.
Carnesale: On most U.S. campuses, this discussion would not be about size; it would be about resources-about finances. A very small proportion of universities have meaningful endowments that have tripled over the last decade. And even where those funds did triple, they provided only a tiny part of the institutions' income to begin with. Three times that tiny income is still not very much. Public support of universities is higher now than it was a few years ago, but it's at about the same level it was a decade ago. So you have to be careful not to generalize from elite private universities to all universities.
A second challenge is to maintain the balance of research, teaching, and service, in the humanities and liberal arts as well as the sciences. Will we be able to maintain the balance between vocational training and education for the sake of education? That is becoming more and more difficult for many institutions, largely because of resource pressures.
Will the private-public partnerships we're entering into-in large part in a search for resources-distort to some extent what the university is about? Some of the change might be positive. But we must also worry about preserving the institutions' independence in seeking truth for the sake of truth. You now find public universities raising private money in order to sustain excellence. At UCLA, we're in the midst of the largest fundraising campaign ever undertaken by a public university, the fourth largest ever undertaken by any university. There are substantial changes and challenges.
The final challenge is the information-technology revolution. I believe it is going to result in a thinning of the herd. It will affect the way the Harvards and UCLAs do things, but will enable them to fulfill their missions better. But my guess is that a very large number of other colleges and universities may not be doing anything at all 20 years from now.
Rudenstine: Al is certainly right. There are substantial challenges. Do I think we'll survive in reasonably good shape? My own answer is yes. Will there be difficulties? No question. My own sense is that over the longer run, the largest difficulty may be the clash of scarce resources in our universities with a public and media perception that does not understand why higher education should seem to be so expensive.
Try to imagine what would happen if we returned to the conditions that prevailed from, say, 1969 to 1982. Recall what that would do to our costs, and think what that would do to public or congressional tolerance of what was happening to our “price” structure-to the fees we would have to charge. That would be a very daunting situation, because even now it's almost impossible to explain to people why a university education costs as much as it does. Little enough account is taken of the financial aid that American colleges and universities offer. If we had to raise tuition and fees 6 or 7 or 8 percent a year for several years-let alone 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 percent a year, as we did in the late 1970s and early 1980s-it would create calamitous conditions.
Callan: We're clearly at the high point of the post-World War II period, if you look at all sources of support for higher education: endowment, federal research, and state dollars. I agree with Neil that the capacity to manage this enterprise is going to be there. But this difference between the haves and the have-nots within the research-university world that Al has brought up is a huge problem.
Watching the states, which is what we do in my organization, I suspect that a lot of money is now being invested in places that are trying to become research universities-money that is making them neither better nor more accessible, but is making them more costly. Will the states be willing to pay the bill in the long term? The state monies in most cases represent at least a third of the funding of those research universities, and some of that funding enables them now to support their arts and sciences activities, too, because the institutions have some discretion in how they use the appropriations.
It seems to me that these institutions' long-term strength is a diversity of funding sources. But because we're doing so well now, there's not much sentiment for thinking about what will happen when the economy turns down. We're bringing a lot of new institutions to the table because of economic-development pressures and political pressures. In the future, that may result in an erosion of political support at the same time that financial support declines again.
Rudenstine: I wonder, Pat, whether those other sources of support really are as strong as they may seem. While direct support for research has been going up very recently in certain areas, indirect-cost recoveries are clearly less-and those are the funds that make the difference to a university's ability to carry on research without also having to subsidize it. In addition, government support for student aid, whether state or federal, has eroded very seriously. Finally, because of our own recent policy decisions, tuition and fees have lagged well behind the actual cost of educating our students in the last decade.
So the trends in most of our revenue streams are negative. Only gifts and endowment earnings actually allow us to manage our “economy” at the present number-but we will not be able to do that indefinitely.
Hoxby: One of the most remarkable things about private research universities is that, year after year, they admit students whose education costs more than the students pay. The institutions are able to create graduates who believe that they've received so much value-added that they give enough to make up for the initial loss the university took on their education. It's a very efficient system, but it's remarkable that it continues to work year after year.
I think we shouldn't underestimate the increase in demand for research universities that is going to occur-not necessarily from traditional sources like state governments, but from international students and researchers who want access to the environment that American institutions have. They may make up for decreasing demand from state governments.
Rudenstine: Perhaps we can shed more light on this issue. Is it basically true that over time sources of indirect-cost support, and state or federal funding for student aid, have actually been declining in real terms? I believe there are good data on this.
Carnesale: UCLA is a public university, yet only 21 percent of my operating budget comes from the state of California.
Callan: That's not all attributable to declining public funds, however.
Carnesale: That's right-some of it is because of increases in other sources of funds, such as increased federal support for research and rising endowment earnings. But in terms of the proportion of funds that come from the state, it's 21 percent. Indeed, we now raise from private gifts about 75 percent as much as we get from tuition. So the mix is changing rather dramatically.
But to get to a point implicit in what Neil said, if you look at the politics of state funding for education, access is always going to win out over academic excellence. We're looking at a tidal wave: in the University of California system, we expect a 43 percent increase in enrollment in the next decade. It's unlikely that the state will fund this expansion at levels that will preserve the academic quality some of our campuses have been famous for, so we're going to be more and more dependent on private funding.
Bronner: How about income from pat¬ents and inventions of faculty members? Is it a source of hope for universities?
Carnesale: It is both growing and insignificant.
Rudenstine: I agree-it's negligible compared to the size of our operating budgets.
Carnesale: You read about the few big cases like the University of Rochester [which is exerting a patent claim on a popular new class of pain medicines]. Every one of us would love to have a few of those, but it's not something against which I'd want to balance my checkbook.
Rudenstine: In our case, this revenue is something like $12 million to $15 million a year, in a total budget of $1.9 billion or so.
If we return to the height of public support for higher education, the astonishing fact about the 1960s and early 1970s is that we managed to expand access and increase quality at the same time, by adding to the size of existing institutions as well as creating new ones. We kept student-faculty ratios at a very good level, while strengthening the research mission and translating research into more challenging courses for students. It's very difficult to find any other national system of higher education that has achieved all of these goals simultaneously.
Since the early 1970s, it has been another story. There has been, in constant dollars, a considerable erosion in public support. So we are now in the paradoxical situation of being able to attract funds for research-and superb students at all levels-but because research space, modern equipment, information technology systems, student aid, and many other necessities are so costly, we can meet our budgets only by raising extraordinary amounts of money and managing our endowments superbly.
The Impact of Information Technology
Moderator: To what extent will those pressures force research universities to restructure, perhaps to decentralize and shed some of their shared costs and services? Will information and communications technology force research universities to peel off some of their integrated functions?
Carnesale: One of the things we're struggling with is that nowadays there are very, very few problems that can be solved by one discipline or one profession. Decentralization presents obstacles to collaboration. That's one of the reasons why Neil has focused on interdisciplinary activities from his very first day as president. But the pressures of management in large universities push the other way, toward decentralization, getting power and authority and responsibility out to the individual schools-more like Harvard's “every tub on its own bottom.” Public universities are getting closer to that. I worry about the management needs being contrary to the teaching and research needs.
On the other hand, we can no longer afford simply to build new professional schools and centers and programs and institutes every time there's a new academic or intellectual challenge that requires us to work across the lines. We're organized very largely the way knowledge was organized in the nineteenth century. Information technology may change the way we organize not only knowledge, but also, as a result, ourselves.
Bronner: What about shrink-wrapped courses that can be offered at low cost by the Universities of Phoenix of the world [the University of Phoenix is a for-profit enterprise serving working adults], and maybe by outsourced consulting companies? They could come to UCLA and say, “We can teach freshman math, or freshman French, for X price, and we can prove that the students learn better using our mix of computers and videos.” It seems to me that's a genuine threat to the way you do business.
Carnesale: It is a challenge if they can really do it better than we can…
Bronner: It's really that they can do it cheaper.
Carnesale: Cheaper is not the same as better.
Bronner: Right-but it's a start.
Carnesale: Most nonresearch universities can provide a “college education” cheaper than we can. That's what I meant before when I talked about thinning the herd. But I don't think that will mean that the Harvards and the UCLAs will go away.
Bronner: They won't disappear, I couldn't agree with you more. But it does mean that someone who has a job in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and wants to get a master's in engineering and can do it on-line, is not going to give up three years and $50,000 to come here and do it. That's some portion of your clientele that will be eaten away.
Carnesale: I don't think very much of it will be. There are lots of people who get master's degrees now who study at their local institutions, where the quality of the education may be as good, or not as good, as ours.
In the future, I think there will be fewer universities whose residential experience will be sufficiently more valuable that it pays to make that sacrifice. I believe we will all do things differently, and that we'll make greater use of technology. But it will not be a substitute, in significant ways, for what we do now.
Hoxby: Every time an information-technology revolution has occurred, we've asked whether technology is going to be a substitute for or a complement to the university. We shouldn't accept too readily the idea that it's going to be a substitute.
Maybe technology can provide a good substitute for some education experiences. But a lot of what research universities do is teach people how to interact with information. That's hard to package.
Doyle: Professional education, where I spend most of my time, is where some of these initial battles get worked out. So many people are entering the business-education marketplace. It's the Willie Sutton theory of education: Go where the money is. Publishing houses like McGraw-Hill and Harcourt have created educational institutions-McGraw-Hill has a Life Long Learning Center that offers courses, and Harcourt has started Harcourt University. Other businesses are creating degree-granting institutions in conjunction with universities and on their own. There's an awful lot going on in the medical field as well, and the business models are getting turned on their heads. Continuing medical education is being offered free of charge because it's an advertising-driven model.
Nothing is going to substitute for the social integration within the university that was referred to earlier. But there's going to be a ruckus on the margins. I'm hoping that universities like Harvard will figure out how to get the best of it, how to supplement what they do, because the way youngsters are getting educated now is really changing tremendously. They're doing their homework collaboratively and on-line. When that generation hits college, there will be a lot of shifts in how people are educated, from the bottom up as well as in these skirmishes on the fringe of professional education.
Moderator: So in the near term, you don't see big changes for the integrated research university's residential or place-based enterprise?
Rudenstine: It's a pretty elastic system, I would say. I mean, what's the population of the country now? More than 270 million? With an 18-year-old cohort of one or two million? Harvard's freshman class has 1,600 students. If we cannot find 1,600 students out of those one to two million 18-year-olds, then we will be in very serious trouble, no question. But I doubt that will be our problem. Ultimately, the capacity to manage our costs and our price structure is probably our greatest long-run problem. I seriously doubt our core educational functions will be supplanted by distance learning. Especially for undergraduate education of real quality-and most graduate education-the residential, human side of education is critical, so our task is to retain this, and also to make it broadly accessible.
That is partly a student-aid issue, and partly an overall resource issue. The two are obviously linked. But as long as we can ensure that any student who applies to our kind of institution can come because there is enough student aid-regardless of what the nominal “price” is-then I believe we will be fine. There will always be 1,600 talented students somewhere in this country who want a residential liberal-arts education. That will also be true at UCLA. It will be true at many, many colleges and universities. So our costs and “prices”-and our ability to attract enough student-aid funding for our students-may well be our greatest problem in the long run.
The Faculty's Interests
Moderator: How will the new technologies change faculty behavior? Will opportunities and financial lures to extend their teaching more widely affect the current agreement between professors and their universities: to work within the community, enjoy a nice life, have an academic-year schedule?
Rudenstine: You cannot have faculty teach simultaneously at two institutions, whether on-line or not.
Bronner: Harvard may be able to make such a demand, and a number of other institutions as well, but there is a battle brewing over intellectual property and ownership between faculty and institutions. For many years nobody cared who owned
the course or the book the faculty member offered. But now that it may have some value, there's a bigger fight over it.
Carnesale: People did care. And we have had two con?icting traditions. One tradition is the book. There we lost mon¬ey, the publishers lost money, and universities established university presses in large measure to subsidize scholarly books. The book belonged to the individual because the university didn't want the primary responsibility of having to publish it. It was a nice deal, and ev¬ery¬body was happy.
On the other hand, teaching belonged to the university. Say you're a professor at Harvard, and MIT-right down the street-says, “Gee, we like your course so much, we'd like you to teach it here also. You could do it Thursday afternoon.” You're allowed a day off a week for consulting, so you think, “Why not?” The University's answer would be no.
Bronner: But what if MIT came here and asked for your curriculum and lecture notes-in other words, asked to buy what you have prepared and what you offer in class? It's not clear to me what the relationship is.
Carnesale: Until very recently, the student who took your course could take your syllabus and teach that course. There was never a sense that it belonged to the professor.
So we have these two con?icting traditions. The book belongs to the professor. The course belongs to whoever took it or wants it, and the teaching belongs to the university. Now it's not that the teaching is suddenly worth money-it was worth money to MIT before, if you were a Harvard professor.
But now it's worth a lot more money. And as for the materials themselves, which were always viewed as community property-that was shared knowledge and belonged to no one because it belonged to everyone. Now everyone in the university is saying, “Wait a minute, that belongs to me.” “Me” is whoever happens to be speaking at the moment-the faculty member or the university president or the chancellor. That's the piece we haven't worked out yet.
Bronner: And then there's Neil's problem, which is that you're building these facilities to allow your professors to do their research. You're losing money on them. You're subsidizing their subscriptions to incredibly overpriced learned journals. So the institution says, “Wait a minute-we're giving you this platform and all of these facilities, so what you do really does belong to us.” But there hasn't been that tradition. So there will be a fight.
Carnesale: It will depend very much on the institution. Institutions that are more technical in their backgrounds tend to view this as a patent. A patent is familiar, it's an area where we have worked this out: the institution gets some money, the department gets some, the individual gets some. It's close to a third each. At Stanford, the patent is the model. But this varies from one institution to another. It would not be the tradition at a place like Harvard, where the faculty would view rights to this material as rights to a book, the administration would view it as teaching, and the patent model wouldn't come to the mind of either.
Rudenstine: What if we do not analyze it as an intellectual-property issue, since doing so leads to rather impossible distinctions and difficult arguments? What if we see it as a question of faculty obligations and commitments, rather than a question of who owns what? Because it's clear that if a faculty member leaves one university for another, that faculty member can teach his or her own courses at the new institution. In that sense, a course is the faculty member's.
Even in the past, I believe that the central question of why a faculty member could not teach at a second institution simultaneously was because the faculty member was being paid full-time by his or her primary institution to teach that institution's students, and to be a colleague there. If you were splitting your time between two institutions, you just were not able to carry out all the essential duties that were important to undertake as a full participant in an academic community. This issue was not one of intellectual property, but of participation and commitment and obligation. *
Bronner: What about consulting?
Rudenstine: That's always been monitored and regulated. It has always had a time limit-one day a week-and has been defined as work that will somehow enhance your professional and educational growth. It is completely different from teaching students.
Bronner: What you could not do on your consulting day is teach a course at MIT?
Rudenstine: That's right. You couldn't teach.
Bronner: The institution had to give its permission for you to do consulting?
Bronner: Could it say no?
Bronner: But it never took a share of the money?
Rudenstine: Absolutely not
Bronner: Has this line become fuzzy now?
Rudenstine: It's not fuzzy. First, it is limited to one day a week. Second, it's intended to enhance your professional life and therefore must be germane to your academic work. You can't say, “I'm going to go off to consult on nuclear theory” if you happen to be a professor of sixteenth-century literature. And third, you certainly can't teach at another institution on your “consulting” time.
If you see the problem not as an intellectual-property issue, but as a matter of commitments, then there is no essential difference between teaching at another “on-line” institution or another physical one. If someone wants to teach at the University of Phoenix while still being a full professor at Harvard, on the theory that one can do one's on-line lectures on Sunday mornings or in August, we would say: “Sorry, you cannot be on the masthead of another institution. You cannot teach at another institution while you are a Harvard professor. You cannot have two salaries. You owe your time to our students, our colleagues, our research projects.” But that's not because we are interested in the financial side of the picture-it's not because we want to capitalize somehow on a professor's intellectual property. It has to do with the person's time, energy, and commitment.
On the other hand, if someone wants to tape his or her lectures and sell them in the same way one might sell a textbook-i.e., not for use by another institution, but off the shelf-then that seems perfectly all right, because the tapes, if sold nonexclusively, are like a textbook. But if faculty members want to sell tapes only to the University of Whatever, for use in its classrooms and for its students only, that does seem out of bounds.
Hoxby: In certain ways, we've come back to the question of why research universities exist. There is not much temptation for research-university faculty to teach at many institutions because faculty know that only a certain amount of teaching complements our research. If we spent all of our time teaching the same course again and again at differ¬ent universities, the marginal teaching would not be complementary to research.
Rudenstine: It wouldn't be any fun, either.
Hoxby: It would be extremely boring. Books are different, because other people can pick them up and read them without interfering with research or interactions with students. It may be tempting to sell a book, but it's not tempting to teach full-time if what you really wanted to do was integrate teaching and research.
Doyle: The future of the book will complicate all of this. Look at the Rocket eBook, a device that lets you download books to your desktop computer and then download the book to a hand-held reading device. I predict that it will be less than five years before you can have one with a little antenna that lets you download directly, followed by being able to have interactive discussions or discussion groups where you even get video clips.
If you follow that train of thought, it becomes harder to distinguish that from a course-especially if you've got a teaching assistant at another institution who's giving assessments and tests. I think it's more of a continuum than teaching here and books there. I'm not sure it's going to be so easy in the future to distinguish the difference.
That's one of the reasons I think Neil is right on target not to get into these issues in terms of intellectual property, but rather to think about the obligations that come with being part of a community of scholars.
The University and Society
Moderator: We touched at the outset on the university's obligations to society. How do you define those obligations?
Bronner: The coming-of-age role we talked about is very important. The institution also needs to be able to integrate students racially and socioeconomically. Places like Harvard are doing quite a lot on that score. What's the proportion of students from public schools who come here, 70 percent? Fifty years ago, you wouldn't have found anything like that.
Carnesale: Consider our basic mission of education, research, and service. Education itself is a service, providing a more educated populace, more informed citizens, and professional specialists. All of those obviously are services to the broader public.
Similarly, both basic research, which may have applications in some distant future, and applied research have beneficial effects on society.
Then there is the third area, which we call public service to differentiate it slightly from those activities that directly involve teaching or research. This might entail working on contemporary problems that society faces-for example, contributing to an understanding of what the healthcare system should be about, or environmental problems, or problems of war and peace.
Bronner: It comes back to the notion of the university as an arbiter of knowledge: you can go to this institution and say, “Tell it to me straight.”
Carnesale: And know that we'll work on the problem and try to advance solutions. Knowing that the source is a research university helps.
Another kind of service we provide is, literally, services: health clinics out in communities; or being out in public schools, trying to enhance teacher training and improve the curriculum and provide better information for parents. We also have service-learning courses where students, as part of their academic experience, are out in the community working with the elderly, or children, or anyone in between. And there are services we provide for business. All of those, apart from research and education, are direct services we provide to our communities.
Doyle: Not to mention the volunteerism by individual students in a whole variety of community activities. That has certainly been widely encouraged by the universities. Most research I've heard about suggests that if you don't begin volunteering when you're young, it's not very likely that you'll get started later. So there's a kind of annuity on student volunteerism that's pretty important to society.
Bronner: Neil, you said earlier that the more society changes, the more value there is to a place like a university. I agree with that. The idea that the university can be counted on to take the long view, not be caught up in the tumult quite to the degree private companies are-I don't think we should underestimate the value of that.
Callan: I want to register a somewhat less sanguine view of all this, without talking about any specific institution. Despite all these valid examples, there seems to be a mismatch between where the university really excels and the problems that are most pressing for society, like children in poverty.
I don't think we should expect the university to solve social problems. But does this incredible, integrated, problem-solving and educating mechanism apply well to the places where society's needs are greatest? We've been very slow on public-school reform. Twenty years into this country's efforts to make things better, university presidents around the country are just now discovering that their teacher-education programs-many of them in research universities-are horrible.
I worry a lot less about how universities are going to respond to well-supported economic-development initiatives. Educational institutions clearly do respond to those markets, as does the private sector. But what about violent crime, drug addiction, the huge number of people we incarcerate in this country and the cost of doing that, or functional illiteracy? It seems to me the relative effort that is focused on these problems is inadequate.
The universities are not expected to be social activists. But given the resources that these problems demand, are we doing enough? Look at political science. Academics seem to be moving away from the growing problems of governance in the nonprofit and public sectors in our society. To the extent that research is being done on the policy side of public-school problems, it's almost completely dominated by economists. The work is more rigorous because of that, but we don't understand why rational models don't work in a real political context.
Those are the kinds of questions I worry about-whether universities will make the contributions to our social system that we ought to make. I think more should be done.
Hoxby: The intellectual energy that universities are investing in problems like school reform, health care, and crime is really tremendous.
Universities' main contribution is not just a function of the resources that they bring to bear. Rather, when a university researcher enters a politicized debate, he or she is one of the few people who can say, “I do not owe anything to anyone in this room. The only institution to which I owe something is University X. Therefore, I can say what I believe to be the facts, what I believe to be true, what I believe to be best in the long run.”
Callan: I'm obviously not arguing that they shouldn't play that role. But one must be more than disinterested to make a contribution to the debate. One has to define and frame issues in ways that lead to progress.
Rudenstine: I think you may underestimate what has actually been achieved. For instance, look at what has happened to our ability to run an economy in the last 20 to 40 years. Granted, it's still a very ?awed science, or an imperfect art, but it's a much more highly informed art than it was in the 1920s or 1930s. I do not think you would have found in a much earlier era persons like Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and many others who understand the range of intelligent options and the choices that have a reasonable chance of making an economic system resilient. That's entirely the result of a tremendous amount of research and understanding in economics and other fields.
If we look at the research on the criminal-justice system and incarceration-the types of crimes committed, the kinds of individuals imprisoned or sentenced to death-we will find some very sensible policy recommendations. But they have so far had essentially no utility from the political point of view, any more than many intelligent budget recommendations have had. Good research and good policy recommendations simply do not always square with the demands of the political process and what the general public wants.
To take another example, many people at Harvard and elsewhere have certainly spent an enormous amount of time on the K-through-12 education problems, and it is possible to develop excellent policy recommendations about what steps we might take to help improve things. But, in the end, these are public-policy issues that will sink or swim on a great many factors, such as attitudes toward low-income housing-who lives near whom-and on the level of investment that cities and communities are willing to make, not just in the schools, but in the neighborhoods or in job creation. There are no single solutions, but there are broad-based approaches that research can help to evaluate. Finally, however, the political process-not the universities-will end up making the decisions.
The issues involved in trying to press a political agenda forward are formidable. Universities are not very good at that, nor do I think we should be. In areas where the issues relate much more directly to the mission of the university-such as funding of scientific research, or student aid-then we can speak out of direct experience and knowledge, and much of what we say can have an effect on national policy.
Callan: I hope it's clear that I didn't say the universities had abdicated. I said I worry about the relative degree of effort and attention that these problems get. I agree with everything you said-and I'm still worried.
Rudenstine: I think we should all be worried. But if you look at what happens at our Kennedy School of Government, the Business School, the School of Public Health, in any number of Harvard schools and departments, I believe you would be very pleased to know how much attention these societal problems receive.
Carnesale: That's a change, actually. First of all, Pat, you're addressing the problems that haven't been solved. I notice that the list doesn't include a whole bunch of health problems or technologies where universities have found solutions.
Callan: Yes, but that's precisely why my expectations are high.
Carnesale: Of the problems that haven't been solved, you begin by picking the most important ones. Number two, you note that these problems are less susceptible to solution simply through improved understanding or discovery-the things we're best at in research universities. These problems require more than that. Third, every one of them is difficult for us to address because of something I said earlier-they don't lend themselves to compartmentalization. You're not going to solve the problem of K-through-12 education or child poverty just with sociologists or political scientists or lawyers or economists or child psychologists or whoever. Finding solutions requires us to work together in ways that are not re?ective of our traditional kind of thinking.
But all our universities have been working on that part, and more and more of them now have schools of public policy. In other words, we now recognize that the politics is important, so we have parts of our universities where politics is not a dirty word, where people understand that you have to take the politics into account as you're thinking of the solution.
Moderator: How should research universities be evaluated? How can we judge whether they are succeeding as they pursue their complex mission?
Bronner: The institutions are complex, so the evaluation has to be equally complex. Student satisfaction, community satisfaction, faculty satisfaction-all these are factors. So are the number of papers produced and the volume of peer-reviewed research.
Within the universities' communities, to take another dimension, the kind of town-gown tension that existed 30 years ago is greatly reduced today. Institutions like Harvard, UCLA, Penn, and Trinity have tried to integrate themselves in ways that at least begin to address community problems. The fact that people who live around universities feel better about them and are often quite proud of them in ways they didn't 30 years ago is a sign of some success.
Hoxby: There are two basic ways that we could measure a university's output. One would be to write down a list of things that we think a university ought to produce-like basic research, applied research, number of publications, or num¬¬ber of students taught-and then try to get some measures of the outputs on the list.
The alternative is to recognize that universities compete with other universities to provide certain services, and compete with other organizations to provide other services. After all, there are many research organizations in the private sector. If universities don't do a good job, people will get their research done by private firms or nonprofit institutions. Students won't come from all over the world to American research universities.
Ultimately, I think some of those demand-based measures are the best. Students don't come just because they know they're going to be taught Math 21a; they come because they appreciate the many aspects of a university. Their demands take a number of things into account. Demand-based measures are not perfect, but we use them to evaluate firms. A firm that has every customer wanting to buy from it is one we consider successful.
Bronner: Foreigners' interest in studying at American universities is clearly partly justified. But it's also partly an effort to associate themselves with the existing empire. I'm not sure we should rely exclusively on those marketing measures to determine whether it's going well.
Hoxby: Not exclusively, but I think that a combination of the demand-based measures and the output-based measures is a good approach.
Rudenstine: Evaluating outcomes is one of those activities that can seem mysterious and impossibly complicated if we look for precise metrics. On the other hand, if we look at a whole set of different criteria, as is being suggested, the history of the best United States research-intensive universities is-by any measure-certainly extraordinary. There are powerful indicators of quality. Sustaining that, or improving on it, is what's going to be really difficult.
Carnesale: Reinforcing what Caroline said, one of the unusual things about American higher education is that it's highly competitive. You get to select where you want to go to school, and there are about 3,500 institutions of higher education.
Similarly, peer-reviewed, federally funded research isn't limited to universities. It can go to other institutions. If you thought you could start a for-profit or a not-for-profit institution that could do life-sciences research better than we do it, you'd jump into that niche. I don't see many people trying to fill that niche, because research universities do it so well.
Doyle: Over the last couple of decades, a fairly widespread realization has arisen that Oxford and Cambridge have declined. Do we understand what happened, and why similar things haven't happened here?
Rudenstine: Lack of government support, as well as lack of broader-based financial support from graduates and friends.
Doyle: Pure and simple?
Rudenstine: Well, nearly pure and simple. Not enough resour¬ces for science, not enough support for quality teaching. It's a clear lack of investment that has made it very hard for these institutions to attract or retain an excellent faculty, to keep up the library budgets, to build proper scientific facilities and undertake enough frontier research. In addition, there are real structural problems associated with these institutions. The “college system” and tutorials are wonderful-I benefited from them enormous¬ly-but they make the economics of the universities extremely difficult.
Cambridge has done better than Oxford, partly because it is a more centralized institution, so it can manage some things more efficiently and make better use of the resources available. But even Cambridge needs new ways, and new resources, if it is going to remain one of the greatest universities.
An Evolving Landscape?
Moderator: Given the strength of the institutions in the United States and the needs elsewhere in the world, will U.S. research institutions form partnerships with other universities, acquire them, or in other ways change structurally over the next 50 years? Will they seek to change the way their faculties are organized? Will there be discrete researchers and teachers?
Carnesale: If you go back to where I started, separate teaching and research specialists don't represent a research university. We already have such specialists, in separate organizations called research institutes and liberal-arts colleges. What makes a research university different is that we integrate those things.
Bronner: Alliances do seem to be forming, and maybe this sector needs to take a page from the corporate sector. MIT has an alliance with Cambridge University. In New York, there's a relationship between Bard College and Rockefeller University, because neither can do what the other does. We'll see more of that among American institutions. We'll see some increase in part-time faculty, too, and probably some decline in tenure. But it's hard to imagine that the outline will be very different.
Carnesale: The University of California system is in essence an alliance already. We've got nine campuses, with a tenth one coming soon. We see far more collaboration among us than in the past. You'll see greater degrees of specialization within our campuses. For example, Governor Gray Davis has proposed building three new California research institutes for science and innovation. Each will collaborate with the other campuses. We will see more of that, if for no other reason than economic-we just can't keep expanding.
Doyle: International alliances will continue to grow. I see them more and more among business schools and various international institutions, as the economy becomes more global. I think what everyone is saying is that collaboration is the future, as opposed to mergers.
Hoxby: I don't see the number of research universities shrinking, given the need for research in the future. But because it's easy to communicate with people elsewhere, much more collaboration will be done than occurs today.
Bronner: Does the growth of corporate research campuses-where a Microsoft pays people to come and do “basic research” -have an impact on your campuses?
Carnesale: Their notion of basic research is a three-year time horizon. That's not our notion of basic research.
Bronner: Still, are people attracted by that?
Rudenstine: Of course-some are. The field of computer science as a whole has been very hard hit. In tenure cases, we always send out a comparison list and ask people to comment on the qualities of all individuals, so we can calibrate the achievements of the individual we are interested in compared to other excellent faculty. Several academics who reviewed the list in a recent tenure case said that if we were really interested in our candidate, we should move quickly, because essentially none of the other people on our list were still full-time at a university. They had all gravitated, at least part-time, to businesses. Now I don't believe that pattern is at all typical, but it's true of a few areas.
Carnesale: Biotechnology, too.
Hoxby: And finance.
Rudenstine: On the broader issue of collaboration, the key question will be which particular kinds of collaboration will succeed-and can be sustained-rather than whether there will be more. For institutional collaborative ventures on an international scale, or among institutions in this country that are not geographically close, our experience is that the purpose of the collaboration has to be extremely well defined and highly specialized. Otherwise, the venture will simply fall apart.
Carnesale: There will be a bit of Darwinism at work here-what I called the thinning of the herd-but 50 years is a terribly long time. I'm confident that there will be some institutions that will be recognizable as research universities, even as they are doing some things quite differently from the way that we do them today.
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